Isis @ In the Venue

Posted June 24, 2009 in

In the Venue
with Keelhaul

I’m not quite sure why but lately with many of my concert reviews I like to tie in a story that I find relevant to the concert. Maybe it’s my age. On to the story: nine years ago I went to Bricks (the old Bricks with the stage reaching a foot off the ground) to see a band I had been enjoying at the time, Candiria, who happened to be opening for the Dillinger Escape Plan, who I was not fully familiar with. There was also this band called Isis opening the show who I hadn’t heard of at all. What’s my point in all this? Well, as we all know, our musical tastes change and what I was listening to nine years ago is far from what I listen to now. I stood with my knee on the stage edge having no idea what to expect from Isis. When they began their set with “Celestial” I was floored. I had never seen anything like it—It literally blew my death and thrash metal listening mind. Well Isis have definitely progressed since that album and those nine years. It’s definitely strange to see a band that at one period in time changed your musical perceptions and then see them elicit a different emotional response years later.

I guess I could have had that same life-changing hope going into this show with opener Keelhaul since I wasn’t familiar with them at all, but thanks to the wonders of the modern internet I was able to sample some of the band’s so I had an idea of what to expect. The band’s set seemed like a car crash between Mastodon and Botch with Mastodon rolling over Botch in a giant SUV. The bulk of Keelhaul’s tunes felt like a gigantic jam session with occasional screamed vocals that didn’t fit the music that well, it wasn’t all that exciting to say the least, though I found myself enjoying Keelhaul’s more unorthodox. less rhythmic moments.

As for Boston’s Isis expected a setlist of songs mostly from the band’s new album Wavering Radiant, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing since the current sound and show of Isis is an interesting one. Back to the story I first told, when I saw Isis in 2000 I was floored by their raw power and anger. Isis live now is almost a more ethereal soothing experience. There is a massive amount of power behind their songs as they build up massive crescendos and pummel and pummel with walls of fluid and monstrous riffs then in fade out into a rhythmic and melodic calm. Whether it’s a slow moment or a crushingly heavy moment the overall feeling you get seeing the guys live is a sort of blissful state of washed-in heaviness. It’s big and epic, yet strangely soothing and beautiful. I’m still trying to figure out what emotions the music was giving me from the show. In all honesty, the crowd could have pulled me into a violent fit of anger if they hadn’t been standing there like trees. Audiences do what audiences do though. I would compare seeing Isis as an audio equivalent of standing in the water on the ocean and letting waves softly crash over you. It is a strange feeling almost a restrained anger, and while the raw anger that I missed from seeing Isis nine years ago to the calming heaviness of the current sound, there really isn’t anything quite like seeing Isis live.